In the context of an enhanced Bank engagement in Fragile States, Management initiated a discussion with the Board of Directors last week to shed light on effective strategic direction, improved operational processes and tools to address fragility in conflict affected countries.
The seminar on the “Bank’s Support to Fragile States: Lessons Learnt,” was based on a presentation made by Sunita Pitamber, Head of the Fragile States Unit, and looked at various issues relating to Africa’s fragile states and the fragile state facility. These issues included the definition of state fragility, history of the Bank’s support to fragile states, rationale for the Bank’s enhanced engagement in these states, their resource eligibility criteria and the resources allocation pillars. It also highlighted the work being done by the Bank-wide Taskforce on future operational themes and procedures for fragile states.
The presentation was followed by a brainstorming session with positive interventions by Board members as well as questions and answers.
In her presentation, Mrs. Pitamber said that “since the establishment of the Fragile State Unit, it has been a continuous learning process in which the Bank has gained extensive experience which has made all the member countries recognize the fragile states facility as an important vehicle to support their development priorities.” In response to the views expressed by Board members, Mrs. Pitamber underscored the need for a renewal of the Bank’s approach by incorporating the work being done by a Bank-wide taskforce and her team. “How can the Bank foster deeper and sustained engagement beyond ADF XII? What would be the key areas in such an engagement and how do we anchor the deeper engagement within a clear results framework?” she asked.
A number of issues were raised which the Taskforce could consider when finalizing its report on the Bank’s future support to fragile states. These include:
- A big-push from the fragile states themselves to reconsider the term “fragile”, as it gives the impression of “weak standing” rather than being on a strong path to peace and state building for sustainable development states,
- The Bank should reflect more on what has been done in Fragile States and if possible bring in OPEV to make the necessary evaluations including conditions and criteria for the states to graduate from fragility;
- Need for a differentiated classification of state fragility and lending instruments. As fragility varies over time, institutional and structural diagnosis should also vary to ensure different engagement modalities including sector support, budget support, capacity building, training policy dialogue, and transitional justice, among others.
- The need for the Bank to remain within the state of continuum while identifying the positions of the different states and the Bank in the continuum. The Bank should not have blanket eligibility criteria based on what others are doing;
- The Bank therefore needs to be more innovative and proactive, in accordance with the respective dimensions of fragility and the volume of knowledge it has acquired since it commenced operations in Fragile states;
- Need for the Bank to continue with its development partners such as the World Bank and African Union, among others in fine-tuning and harmonizing its support package on a case-by-case basis, bearing in mind that the best criteria should be result-oriented.
The seminar recalled what one civil society representative said in a recent regional consultation meeting on peace building and state building in Addis Ababa: “ Working to address the fragility in fragile states and support the countries in their path to reconstruction and rehabilitation is like holding sand in your hands - always running the risk of being elusive.” The Board expressed its satisfaction that Mrs.
Pitamber and her team are on the right path to meet the pervasive development challenges in the Fragile States.